Bye bye, Twitter
After over 12 years being more or less active on Twitter, I logged out everywhere and deleted the app.
How Twitter changed
During the pandemic, the toxicity of people on the platform accelerated significantly, and so did bot activity and dumbassery. Many people that I follow are harassed, people and bots continuously try to dispute facts, and they try to sow doubt with lies and cherry-picked information.
Enter Musk. The ‘genius’ entrepreneur. The man that reinstated Trump’s account based on a Twitter poll. The man that had engineers work over the weekend to ship Twitter Blue in an attempt to commercialize a blue checkmark, which completely backfired as it enabled random accounts to appear authentic when they weren’t. Quickly after he took over, I saw another jump in bot activity, and suddenly I get crypto and NFT spam now. What a legend. What a genius.
Although I can forgive some inconveniences in an attempt to increase revenue or make a business economically sustainable, the poor leadership and ethically questionable decisions Musk have shown in recent months, isn’t something I want to support in any way. Besides, Twitter has become objectively worse, now that the floodgates of bots, harassment, and misinformation have opened.
But there are many more reasons why I don’t want to support this new CEO. He shares misinformation and brings back QAnon and far-right accounts, influences financial markets in his favour, promotes fake currencies that produce off-the-chart emissions, and is responsible for killing more animals than needed at Neuralink. While I’m writing this article, he’s also banned accounts that track private jets and a handful of journalists for ‘doxxing’ even though it’s his jet (N628TS) that sends out an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signal for everyone to see. I wonder what @joinmastodon, an account for a competing platform, did to get banned. Musk wants Twitter to be an unmoderated shit show, yet he clearly moderates in his own interest.
I apologize for turning this post into a rant.
Takes a deep breath
This is a great example of the dangers of having a public space in the hands of a single person. Pardoning accounts because no law was violated and a Twitter poll said so, while banning others for sharing information someone doesn’t like, is quite arbitrary.
Make sure to also read Hidde de Vries’ much better articulated post: Is this the last exodus from Twitter?
What I’ll miss
I primarily used Twitter to engage with a relatively small group of people. Luckily, a significant part of that group is also moving away, but not all of them. I’ll definitely miss out on some good content, but that’s an inconvenience I’m happy to accept.
Unfortunately, I can’t take my 800+ followers with me. I’m sure social media-savvy people will laugh at that number as it’s absolutely nothing for someone that puts in effort, but as someone who doesn’t actively seek an audience, I’m honoured to have acquired that many followers.
A couple of years ago, I created a Mastodon account. At the time, I was intrigued by the idea of an alternative that was federated, open-source, and wouldn’t sell data to advertisers. Once Twitter became Musk’s, many friends gave that another go and naturally, I followed. Now that I’ve actively used it for a couple of weeks, I realize there’s much to improve, but the “dumb” timeline that isn’t curated or riddled with advertisements, is fantastic.
It also has, as a Gen Z person might say, good vibes. So far, people have a positive attitude, which is a welcoming change of scenery. Considering that different social platforms have different cultures, I definitely hope Mastodon keeps the welcoming one it has now.
I won’t say Mastodon is perfect. There’s no business model, so might only drain instance owners of money. In fact, they can disconnect their servers on a whim, so there are definitely other concerns to consider. Additionally, it might not work for people who do what to grow an audience, as there are no features for that specifically and there’s no algorithm to trick.
Twitter crumbling down under bad leadership and the risks of depending on individuals are good reminders that “nothing in this world is certain, except the death of social media, and taxes”. To reclaim ownership of my data, I’ll definitely look into indie web and POSSEing my content, but that’s a story for another day.
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